Disabled employees of the non-profit Digital Divide Data elected a president of their newly formed union on Sunday, after staff members accused the US-founded social enterprise of exploiting disabled staff.
Thach Saroeung, who was unanimously elected to the position by 30 members of the DDD’s disabled staff and whose nomination has been submitted to the Ministry of Labor, said he wanted the company to explain its payment policies.
“We want [Digital Divide] to explain to us the financial management, because we do the same work [as able-bodied employees] but we receive less money,” Thach Saroeung said.
He claimed that disabled employees sometimes receive only $65 of their $85 monthly salary for the digital archiving and other data entry computer work that the enterprise conducts.
“There is not a good relationship between the management and the employees,” Thach Saroeung added.
The 30 union members make up around one quarter of the Digital Divide’s total staff.
Digital Divide Data General Manager Kann Kunthy said all employees used to receive the same salary, but that new policies have been implemented since able-bodied workers complained that they work harder than their disabled colleagues do.
Under the new policy, said Kann Kunthy, “Strong people will make more money.”
Kann Kunthy said that he was concerned for the enterprise’s future, as donors, alarmed by the disabled union’s claims, may cease funding.
Digital Divide aims to offer competitively priced services for data entry while facilitating the human development of its staff by providing healthcare, education and fair wages, according to its Web site.
Digital Divide’s clients have included Harvard University’s Harvard Crimson newspaper in the US, according to its Web site.
Kong Pharith, senior program officer for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said his center had taught employees of Digital Divide Data basic laws about their rights as workers.
“[Unionizing] is a good example for NGOs, because NGO management [often] do not know the labor law,” Kong Pharith said.